Forbes’ 30 Under 30 includes Jules Simiand Brocherie on its list of young top talent, thanks to the educational project he created during the health crisis
In his room at his home in Paris, Jules Simiand Brocherie has his mental gears constantly turning; his entrepreneurial mind never rests. Right now, he’s a restless and determined 17-year-old. It is April 2020, and half the planet is at a standstill due to the lockdowns and restrictions brought about by the pandemic. He is stunned by the avalanche of alarming news and sobering announcements from the French government on TV: a disease called COVID-19, as complex as it is deadly, threatens humanity and pushes authorities to confine the population to their homes, including children, who stop going to school in the wake of sudden school closures. “That worsened educational inequalities. I confess I was horrified, and I decided to act quickly,” he recalls.
Two years later, Jules Simiand Brocherie, a Bachelor in Business Administration (BBA) student at IE University’s Segovia campus, is receiving endless accolades. His project, ExtraStudent, which he designed in the early days of the health crisis, has just earned him a spot on Forbes magazine’s prestigious 30 Under 30 list for 2022, which celebrates France’s most talented people under the age of 30.
With the doors of schools and universities closed, Simiand Brocherie launched a free academic support platform where high school students, physically removed from the classroom, could freely share their knowledge to help one another. During those times of restrictions and collective fear in the face of the pandemic’s uncertainty, he doubted whether this tool for high schoolers would gain any traction. Those fears were quickly dispelled. The platform was a resounding success from the start.
ExtraStudent currently has more than 20,000 users throughout France and is preparing to expand to the English-speaking world this May. The platform consolidates worksheets, presentations and homework from high school students (between 15 and 18 years old) who excel in certain subjects and are generously willing to offer them on the platform for the benefit of the entire educational community. It also allows users to ask questions and get answers quickly, as well as create social bonds between students from different schools and educational institutions.
The ExtraStudent team is made up of six people, all of them students, who work seamlessly together from France and Spain. “We work with different organizational and planning tools, and we have frequent videoconferences,” explains Simiand Brocherie. “We have been providing this service for two years now. The interest it sparks among students shows that it occupies a space where, among other things, it compensates for the shortcomings of the school system.”
Now ExtraStudent is going one step further, expanding to English-speaking audiences and branching into higher education. Studying at IE University, which is home to students from more than 100 nationalities and whose teaching language is English, made Simiand Brocherie rethink the scope of the platform and become more ambitious. The business outlook indicates that the tool will significantly increase its consumer niche and reach a global scale. “I started my platform when I was still a high school student, but IE University has allowed me to develop ExtraStudent more fully, thanks to the freedom it offers me and the flexibility I have,” he says. His idea is to multiply the number of customers by seven or eight by the end of the year.
Being part of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list is, for Simiand Brocherie, “the dream of every young entrepreneur.” He adds that, “what’s more, I’m the youngest person on the 2022 list. It’s a great honor and a great energy boost for the future.” For the young Frenchman, a person’s professional value doesn’t depend on age, “and Forbes has seen it that way; by choosing me, it is sending a very powerful and promising message to young people who question their abilities and don’t have the courage to take the plunge into entrepreneurship.” And he knows what he’s talking about, as this distinction from Forbes is not the first he’s received. Last year, for example, he was awarded First Prize for Civic Action by the National Order of Merit, receiving personal congratulations from the president of France, Emmanuel Macron.
Working at ExtraStudent makes it difficult for Simiand Brocherie to attend all of his classes. However, IE University is a pioneer in distance learning. It has developed a Liquid Learning methodology that allows students to attend classes in-person or connect live remotely via special screens installed in the classrooms, offering access to the same immersive experience and academic excellence from any corner of the world. This allows the young Frenchman to combine his studies with developing his platform from France.
Simiand Brocherie considers himself an entrepreneur committed to the world he lives in. In the short term, ExtraStudent is his big project. He also wants to continue his business studies and at the same time study public policy, a sector that particularly interests him.
He considers IE University’s greatest assets to be the diversity of its student community, its faculty and the “very modern” infrastructure available to students, “which allows us to work in optimal conditions.” He adds, “IE University brings together all the elements necessary to innovate, create and work together.”